Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at Northcote: a grand finale

amanda palmer and grand theft orchestra posterThe Northcote Social Club was packed on Monday night for the last of five gigs by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, and what a sweaty little box that venue is. But the sound was on the money and if elbows in the chest and a stage seen past bobbing heads counts as intimate, then this was it.

The purpose of the band’s string of low-brow gigs was to road test material for an album, which begins recording in Melbourne this week. Today, in fact. And it promises to be a most enjoyable record indeed.

Palmer has assembled three multi-instrumentalists (Jherek Bischoff – mostly bass, Michael McQuilken – mostly drums, Chad Raines – mostly guitars and synthesiser, and trumpet and vox too), who share a joyous rapport on stage. It’s great to see a collective of musos enjoying themselves, playing for the fun, interacting, teasing and laughing. A Palmer gig is often a rambunctious affair, and this was no exception. There was even birthday cake for the mostly drummer, and a ukulele present that was broken in immediately. Kudos!

The new material, mostly upbeat and groovy, shows an expansion of style leaning on an ’80s sensibility — and synthesiser — in addition to more typical staccato Palmer delivery. There was some gorgeous phrasing, excellent harmony work, exquisite changes of mood and tempo. There was a ‘My Sharona’ lift, traces of Siouxsie Sioux and Martha Davis and, if the crowd is to be believed, The Cars, though I wasn’t quite convinced on that score. Happy beats and sombre ballads. And a big blast of brass.

Monday night’s finale — sadly, the train timetable meant we had to eschew the encore — included an appearance by near-nekkid performance artists, an opening slot filled with so much aplomb by Die Roten Punkte (so versatile, this duo, playing punk, pop, silly ditties and Krautrock — catch them at the Spiegeltent!) and a superb vocal guest spot by Bauhaus’s David J (who DJs at Cabaret Nocturne on Friday).


Sisters of Mercy cornered in Melbourne

They weren’t, of course. I spied just the one fan hovering by the stage exit, and he was fended off by the driver, and then waved off through the glass, clutching his LP as the English trio piled into their escape vehicle.

Inside Melbourne’s packed and venerable shed, The Corner, there were two, perhaps three people wearing white. One was Andrew Eldritch, lead singer and founder and main man of the Sisters of Mercy. Through the constant fog, the bald, sunglassed figure looked astronautical at times; sadly, the image was belied by the reality of the terry towling hoodie. This was rock ‘n’ roll in gym chic. This was NOT GOTH, okay?

The crowd was, largely, so corseted and coiffed, a delight to behold, the goths and the rockabillies and the rock hounds, the veteran fans and the newest generation flocking to see the UK legends roll out 90 minutes of classic not-goth rock. Hm, perhaps best not to write songs such as ‘Lucretia My Reflection’ — an absolute winner tonight, holding up one of the two encores — if you don’t want the children of the night to bulk out your fan base.

Kyla Ward reports from the front line!

Points to Eldritch, his wonderful guitarist and so-active bassist: they changed the set list from last week’s Auckland gig, even whacking the instrumental into the second encore. The hits were still there, of course: ‘More’, ‘Detonation Boulevard’, ‘Vision Thing’, ‘This Corrosion’, ‘Dominion/Mother Russia’, ‘Alice’, the closing ‘Temple of Love’, and others. Unknowns were there, too, moreso thank in NZ if feeble memory serves, allowing the chitter-chatter to rise. My advice, should you be so inclined as to attend this Thursday’s gig, is to get up close, where you can peer through the fog and catch some of the action, and perhaps lip read the lyrics you know so well. Because from the back, Eldritch was largely unintelligible save for those occasional lupine howls, those particularly enunciated choruses.

He was, however, compared to the Auckland outing, verily loquacious, even addressing a couple up the front, and exhorting attendance on Thursday for the band’s second and last sideshow outside the Soundwave festival.

Kudos to the Corner bar staff; have I ever been so quickly, efficiently and politely served at any live venue before?

All of which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy tonight’s gig. The Sisters are formative to me, comfort and mood music, and to hear them play, even in this thoroughly competent and enjoyable incarnation, is a delight. I like Eldritch’s onstage super-cool persona, I love the lights strobing out from the mist, I love the beats and the songs of decay and loss and displacement, the cynicism and world-weariness and the headbanging riffs. It’s rock ‘n’ roll to be lost in and taken away by and moved by. But yes, perhaps, live, best appreciated from up the front.


The Courier’s New Bicycle delivers a worthy message

This is the fourth book I’m reading as part of my list of 10 for the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge

AWWNYRC#4: The Courier’s New Bicycle

By Kim Westwood
HarperVoyager, 2011, ISBN: 978 0 7322 8988 1

couriers new bicycle by kim westwood

WHAT a fascinating picture Kim Westwood paints of dystopian Melbourne, right from the striking Darren Holt-designed cover. Australia has been ravaged by a flu vaccination gone wrong – I can hear the shouts of told you so from the anti-vac lobby from here – with the result that fertility levels have fallen through the floor. The religious right has ascended to an almost Orwellian command of the government and the streets, patrolling morality with a puritanical fervour that would make the Rev Nile dance the snoopy dance. Hormones are a hot property in a society where reproduction is a struggle.

Our journey into this well-rendered terrain is through the eyes of Salisbury Forth, a bicycle courier whose life has been characterised by a fight for acceptance of her transgender status. She identifies as androgynous, meaning even her family shun her. Sal (the story is told in first person, so eliminating annoying pronoun conflicts) found a measure of freedom inside the underground community of the inner city, ‘pedalling’ hormone and liberating factory animals; it’s only a matter of time, of course, till the wheels come off.

Intrigue on an almost cyberpunk level ensues as bad drugs are sold, corporate interests clash, desires stoke the belief that the ends justify the means.
Issues of sexuality and identity, and the prejudice levelled against the perceived ‘other’ by the ‘moral majority’, are key issues, and Westwood puts us firmly in the saddle.

The story is narratively more straightforward and the prose more accessible than in her previous, debut title, The Daughters of Moab, a post-apocayptic Australian tale which likewise evoked a most believable world.

australian women writers challenge 2012It’s refreshing that in CNB there are no action heroes; while the world dips into science fiction concepts rooted firmly in the here and now – glow-in-the-dark pets, anyone? say no to battery farming? – the characters are uniformly of the average human variety. They get tired, they make mistakes, they hurt.

There were two minor speed bumps in my reading of the novel, and both probably reflect more on my reading habits than Westwood’s skill and style.

the first was a preponderance of info dumps filling in details about the back story, particularly early on as the stage was being set. There’s a certain level that fits the noir tradition that this story draws on so well, but there’s also a limit to just how much is needed at any one time without interfering with the story, or indeed, interrupting conversations.

The second, equally minor, annoyance was the Salisbury ‘voice’. For a young person who left home at 16, has limited formal education and lives an unsettled life, Sal’s vocabulary is extraordinarily wide and her knowledge of art likewise remarkable. Unfairly assumptive and prejudicial? Perhaps.

These quibbles can’t diminish the impact of Westwood’s world and the gender and social issues she explores. Atmospheric, considered, with likeable characters in a fascinating world: bravo.

Previous Challenge reviews:

  • The Road, by Catherine Jinks, horror.
  • The Shattered City, by Tansy Rayner Roberts, fantasy.
  • Frantic, by Katherine Howell, crime.
  • Roger Waters’ The Wall: quite the spectacle

    Looking back at last night’s opening performance of the four-night run at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena of The Wall, the stadium spectacular led by Pink Floyd great Roger Waters: what a triumph for staging.

    Drawing heavily from both previous Floyd gigs and the movie of The Wall, there’s an aeroplane and an inflatable pig, giant marionettes, fireworks and gunfire; a performance stage that extrudes from the main stage and a living room that extends from a wall. There’s the trademark Pink Floyd circular screen above the stage, though the high tiers probably didn’t see much of it past the massive speaker stacks suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, it was only really in play during the first half. And of course, there’s the wall itself: an extremely clever edifice stretching the width of the arena, constructed to full height — between 20 and 30 feet, I’d guess — during the first half, and then forming a backdrop during the second, until its eventual demise — almost an anticlimax, coming quite suddenly, as it does on the album, at the end of The Trial.

    The wall, in all its stages of construction, acts as a massive screen for various film clips — some from the movie The Wall, most successfully perhaps the marching hammers — and effects, even a projection of various walls on the wall. A subway train is brilliantly detailed.

    For ‘Hey You’, the opening song of the first half, there is only the wall: a gutsy bit of performance to have an entire song sung with no one on stage and fairly minimalist projections as well.

    For ‘Comfortably Numb’, a real crowd favourite, Waters is alone in front of the wall, with a second singer doing some of the heavy vocal lifting from the top; he doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do, Roger, standing out from his black-suited compatriots due to his white trainers for the duration of that tune. He came across as a man in need of a guitar. Which he gets, on and off, and very nice it is, too.

    flowers from pink floyd movie The Wall

    For ‘Mother’, Roger sang to the backdrop of himself singing the song during the original Wall tour some 30 years ago. The voice doesn’t quite make some of those notes, but The Wall is theatrical enough to allow some licence. I do wonder how the mum sitting in the next row is going to explain that tune to her whippersnapper son; that or the big-screen naked boobs and crotch grabbing of ‘Young Lust’; the animation of fornicating plants might’ve gone over the young’un’s head this time around.

    It really is a hell of a production, but the politics are a little dodgy. Trying to update the work, essentially a nightmarish autobiography about a wretched childhood, a dead solider father and the high cost of fame, into a plea for world peace feels like a stretch at times. Still, great art work; massive heart. ‘Bring the Boys Back Home’, indeed, but let’s not oversimplify here. There was at least one casualty of 9/11 on the memorial wall screened during intermission; the solutions aren’t as simple as we might like.

    Still, I love the way that religions, warmongers and multicorporates are lumped into the same basket of Bad (a real game of pick your fascist!), although given I’ve just paid a hundred bucks to see it, there might be a degree of irony going begging there as Shell, Mercedes and McDonalds logos rain down amid dollar signs like 1000-pound bombs from hoopy Stratofortresses.

    Highlights? Well, the album brims with them, but seeing the school kids on stage wagging their fingers at the giant school master is pretty cool; ‘Run Like Hell’ lifts the pace wonderfully. The sound is superb and the band and backing singers first-rate. Definitely worth a gander if you’re lacking a little rock opera in your diet. Hell, you might even leave with a sudden urge to donate to a famine-relief charity or buy a poppy on Anzac Day. Assuming you don’t already.

    No support act, two halves of about an hour each, plus 20-minute intermission.

    Meanwhile, here’s one of my favourite songs from the album, ‘Comfortably Numb’, and a spine-tingling moment of reconciliation when Dave Gilmour joined Waters in London to play it. Tear down the wall!

    Dresden Dolls rock the house in Melbourne

    band dresden dolls

    The Forum is probably still shaking. The Dresden Dolls put out one hell of a lot of bass for a two-piece. With Amanda Palmer on keyboards and vocals and Brian Viglione on drums and guitar, the venerable Melbourne venue was both shaken and stirred.

    It was a sell-out crowd, last night’s gig, and it was given its money’s worth. Melbourne bands the Jane Austen Argument and The Bedroom Philosopher provided support, and the Dolls played for the best part of two hours, right up to the witching hour, with two encores. Palmer crowd surfed her way to the stage at one point; Viglione was on stage chatting as we left after the house lights came on: nothing like a little hands on.

    Viglione impressed behind the drums, using the instrument as a prop for his animated performance. He and Palmer worked off each other brilliantly, she in black bra on one side of the stage, he shirtless with bowler hat on the other. Indefatigable and unpretentious in his actual playing, Viglione’s talent and appeal is obvious, even if the recently quiet Dolls have been a tad overshadowed by Palmer’s solo cult.

    There were canonical Dolls tunes including ‘Coin-Operated Boy’, ‘Missed Me’ and ‘Girl Anachronism’, brilliantly rendered live, and covers including ‘Mercy Seat’, ‘Two-Headed Boy’ and ‘War Pigs’ and an all-in cacophonous ‘You Got to Fight for Your Right to Party’.

    A highlight — one that gave me a genuine frisson — was ‘Delilah’, with JAA’s Jen Kingwell singing counterpoint to Palmer. For so many verses, Jen stood quiet in the spotlight, and then, pow, she nailed that first high note, and never looked back. Judging by the screams from the crowd, I wasn’t the only one affected. Back in October, in San Diego, Palmer had JAA’s Tom Dickins sing the part, and it was likewise sensational. The duo just keep getting more polished, more confident, and last night I heard more in Dickins’s lower register, some real growl — what a voice! Last night, on ‘Delilah’, Kingwell showed her mettle, too. Stand back for their first single — a bold choice, this one — when it’s released later this month.

    Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl — what a bright spark

    meow meow cabaret performerHumour, pathos, an awesome voice, a superb use of light and shade in all forms … oh Meow Meow, it was all over way too soon, the light burning twice as bright burning half as — no wait.

    We saw Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at the Malthouse Theatre, that gorgeous old refurbed brewery in Melbourne’s Southbank, and it was a hot ticket. Not ‘too hot’, like the opening number sung in German and then English with true cabaret panache, but just the right kind of heiss: flirty, yes, and creative, and clever.

    I don’t want to say too much, because the show took turns I didn’t expect, in staging and lighting, and in musical direction. But there was at its core a social conscience anchored around the plight of children — hence the nod to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale — and in the wings superb support from a talented singer, Mitchell Butel, and a sharp four-piece band who added atmospherics with violin that were truly sensational.

    Meow Meow is so engaging, risque and personable and witty, making established one-liners and tired double entendres work anew. She swears for emphasis, not conversation. She does silence very well, and darkness, too. She pulls folks out of the audience and doesn’t take the piss, though she does tumble into some Teutonic instruction from time to time.

    The show went for 80 minutes and there were torches and light bulbs and a chandelier. It could not be confused with Phantom of the Opera although the singing was very good. There was a clever — damn, that word again — to a Melbourne moment that might not work in other cities, unless they’re equally as clueless when it comes to public transport.

    The Malthouse show runs till December 4 (I can recommend the pork belly if you’re dining beforehand, and isn’t it nice to be at a theatre where you can take your drink in?), and Meow Meow returns early next year for gigs in Melbourne’s Spiegeltent, and others’, too. Nom nom nom.

    Melbourne in one day: food, writers, art, music

    Yesterday’s touch of summer, and spring, and winter, and oh, yes, well, autumn, fine, it IS Melbourne, but at least it didn’t rain, was just dandy for a day in the city.

    First, there was lunch at Time Out in Federation Square — the staff there are amazingly efficient and efficiently friendly and the food is tasty and well-priced, though a wine will set you back the best part of $10 a glass — with a Brisbane contingent (including two of us expats and one wannabe). The sun was warm, the wind chill, the quesadillas suitably chilli, the friendship warm. This is what weekend afternoons are all about, hey?

    vienna art and design at ngvFrom there, I wandered off to the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. The exhibit showcases the Secessionist movement. Here, I again learnt that I do like Klimt (I never knew he drew erotica, so those drawings were educational), that I want to know more about Schiele and Kokoschka (awesome portraiture!), and have sadly little interest in tea pot design.

    The exhibit kicked off with architecture (loved the Die Zeit facade re-creation in aluminium and glass, all very Metropolis*) and ran through visual art, including wicked posters and a couple of exquisitely processed photographs, furniture and cutlery n stuff. In those heady days, the architect was not just designing the building, but the entire fit-out. This was perhaps most strikingly presented by having two sets of furniture on either side of the same room, both products of the era but showcasing the two directions that design took: decorative and pragmatic (in my layman’s terms).

    I also ducked upstairs to check out the Deep Water exhibition: a small collection of photographs ranging from creeks and waterfalls to icebergs and people swimming. Makes you appreciate the power of a black and white landscape, and indeed of nature itself (fingers crossed for those in the path of Hurricane Irene, who would, I’m sure, be happy just with photographs).

    melbourne writers festival 2011

    There followed a long coffee — there may also have been a beer, the day being turned to summer again — and scribbled notes (ink slashing akin to wrist slitting; infernal story, I hate you as much as you hate me) — and then, as the dial turned to a shady phase of winter, my first Melbourne Writers Festival event: Kim Scott, Marie Munkara, Arnold Zable (chair) and John Bradley talking about indigenous language and politics.

    My summary: language is an important if not essential plank of cultural identity. So this move to herd folks from their country and teach them exclusively English: don’t. (What year is this again? Have we learnt nothing?)

    Bradley made one of the most striking comments of the panel, when he described the Aboriginal language he’d learnt as ‘rising up from the country’, or words to that effect.

    Powerful stuff, language; dangerous, too.

    PEN International sponsored this panel, and an empty chair on the stage represented writers who have been killed or jailed for daring to not only have an opinion, but to air it.

    To balance out this heavy topic, a short walk up Swanson St, the Toff in Town was hosting Stories Unbound. At the Toff, I’ve learnt, it pays to order two drinks at a time, especially when the house is packed. And it was, with punters turning up to hear Tishani Doshi, Brissie’s Nick Earls, Leslie Cannold, Anna Krien, Michael Robotham and MC David Astle share, without notes, an unpublished anecdote from their lives.

    Doshi: her love for the woman who introduced her to dance and so freed her to pursue an artistic life; Earls: how the Pope helped him pass medicine — funny stuff, involving testicles and Gaviscon; Cannold: a Jewish mother having to decide whether to get her sons circumcised; Krien: a tonguey from a 90-year-old man in the name of journalism; Robotham: separate misadventures involving pornographers and a redneck. All with sign interpretation. So a good mix of serious and humorous in a convivial atmosphere.

    Oh, the music: on the train, there was a guy strumming his guitar, but it was kind of dull so I plugged in my mp3 player. And then got home to the awesome announcement of friend Sarah’s solo album deal with ABC Classics. As Night Falls is the name of the album: can’t wait!

    * speaking of Metropolis, it’s as good a throw as I could come up with with to preview the upcoming exhibition of Modernity in German Art 1910-37: it’s hip to be square!

    The Burlesque Hour in Melbourne: with added Meow Meow

    moira finucane burlesque performer

    Moira Finucane

    Burlesque has come a long way from sequins, boas and corsets with an aim to tease. That’s certainly the understanding presented by The Burlesque Hour, a production playing at Melbourne’s delightful warehouse basement club fortyfivedownstairs.

    The club plays a big part in the event’s success, boasting terrific atmosphere with cabaret seating around a central catwalk, Chinese lanterns, vintage timber floor and pressed metal ceiling, and some of the friendliest door and bar staff you could hope to exchange greetings with.

    Created by Jackie Smith and Moira Finucane, the show — it goes longer than an hour, thankfully — shatters the stereotypical notions of striptease, burlesque, nudity and female sexuality.

    In the show we saw, Finucane was the lynchpin, carrying the politics from the catwalk to the back row with balloon-bursting ease. Her bag lady ascending to heaven was a truly poignant display in a night of great variety.

    The Angels’ ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ was destroyed by having a woman in showgirl feathered bikini carrying the tune; same again with gender-inverting drag queen-lip synced opener The Divinyls’ ‘I Touch Myself’. Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ was put to art snob-bashing good use, with a tip of the hat to the water wall at NGV as well as Poe’s ‘The Raven’, and a Flashdance-esque saturation to boot. The front rows looked pensive when the pre-song umbrellas and plastic sheets were handed out, and again when the second act set a cracking start thanks to a whip-wielding Sosina Wogayehu in dominatrix mode.

    Thing was, Finucane does not conform to magazine cover concepts of celebrity good looks — no facelift, no perky tits, no Brazilian. She was, if memory serves, the only performer to appear fully naked.

    The staging was superb throughout, simple but striking: cigarette smoke through black cloth, streamers of green cloth, black blood splattering naked flesh.

    Elsewhere, there were heavy metal dance routines from Holly Durant and Harriet Ritchie and sheer, strawberry-flavoured elegance from MC Maude Davey.

    Davey added a fine note of sexual politics by appearing nude but for long gloves, headpiece and extensive necklace while singing ‘I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl’: such a crack-up to see a naked woman flirting over the removal by teeth of one of said gloves, even as the song’s metaphor was literally stripped.

    meow meow cabaret performer

    Meow Meow

    And there was Meow Meow, cabaret star par excellence who dazzled with an amazing range and theatrical presence, adroit at audience interaction, humour and pathos. In one of her three numbers, she out-Palmered her friend Amanda with a rendition of Dresden Dolls’ ‘Missed Me’. She was the latest guest artist to appear in the show’s nine-week run, ending next month.

    Meow Meow appears later this year at the Malthouse in Little Match Girl.

    The Burlesque Hour shattered expectations, unleashed beauty and the beast in the one package, and provided food for thought to take home. Yes, burlesque sure looks different down in the basement. I hope the hour strikes again soon.

    Things to do in Melbourne #6: get in the Brunswick Street groove

    polly cocktail barMelbourne’s Brunswick Street is one of happening precincts where sub-cultures come together and drink coffee — possibly with soy milk. We had a taste test last night, hitting a couple of hot spots: Brunswick Street Gallery, Polly, Polyster records and books, and Grub Street Bookshop. Ah, kulcha!

    The gallery is established in a three-storey house and boasts narrow stairs and two floors of exhibition rooms of varying colour, lighting and space. Last night’s selection of opening exhibits was reasonably eclectic: a photographic display of the zodiac using friends of the photographer and another showcasing the female form in a largely empty room; pop art protests; still lifes perhaps aimed at the cafe set; a projected installation; big photos of kids in cages with A Message; an ode to Kodachrome using a Chinese scene. My favourite showing, though, displayed in a delightfully red room with defunct fireplace where its black and white drawings really popped, was Transform by Hannah Mueller: her pictures had narrative, dimension due the overlaying of cutouts, and lots of skeletons and other repeating motifs, including birds, vivisection and masks. Mueller’s bio, if I remember it accurately, said she was a Sydneysider still at art college or uni, in which case, whoa! Sadly, no web presence that I could find to point you to (I don’t think this Hannah is the one in Assassin’s Creed, though it might explain some stuff!), and the BSG website is kind of obtuse and annoying.

    Anyway, within staggering distance of the gallery and on opposite sides of the street are the two Polyster stores, one dealing in alternative books — lots of tattoos and art, social commentary and Interesting Stuff, and the other in alternative cds and vinyl. Nearby is Grub, complete with secondhand bookstore smell and narrow aisles, a minuscule genre fiction section but a truly drool-worthy non-fiction section heavy on the arts and the humanities.

    The jewel in the crown of last night’s stroll was Polly. Oh, Polly! With its concrete floor and red velvet couches, its classy nekkid ladies upon the stressed red walls, its funky brass handles on the door of the loos, and its separate smoking antechamber at the front. It offers a fine array of absinthe and cocktails, and the tastiest little $6 pizzas, and pretty darn good service, too. Its decadent lavishness would suggest it to be the natural environment of a goth/burlesque crowd, but I think the hipsters might’ve outpriced them. I haven’t been in town long enough to know the tides of the sub-culture drift. Regardless, it’s a comfy space and one of my favourite Melburnian drinking holes so far.

    Continuum’s dark fairytale magic

    vampire woman by victoria frances

    Continuum is over, my throat is sore, I’m a little tired: standard convention hangover, then. Kirstyn has a new Chronos award — for Madigan Mine. There was much talk of vampires, fairytales and steampunk. A debate about the pros and cons of immortality…

    In short, it was an excellent con, with long dinners and impromptu panels at the bar, great company, some slivers of inspiration amongst the panels. Catherynne M Valente was an amazingly giving and erudite and witty guest who cut a hell of a rug on the dancefloor. Her comments about reviewing, made during a Writer and the Critic podcast, are worth catching up with.

    Two of the most affecting panels I attended were both, not surprisingly, darkly themed, and I’ll single them out from what was a very strong line-up.

    The first was late on opening night, Friday, and involved the attraction between horror and beauty. Kyla Ward read a superb poem in her inimitable, theatrical fashion; Kirstyn read from her spooky-sexy short story ‘Monsters Among Us’; and Talie Helene lifted the roof with an acapella rendition of a ghost folk song. Discussion was informed and interested and on-topic and reluctant to stop.

    The next morning, Talie and Kyla backed up on a dark poetry panel with Earl Livings and Danny Lovecraft. Kyla blew the room away with an excerpt from ‘The Raven’ and Talie pretty much felled anyone left standing with some truly wrenching World War I poems. Great stuff. And do note that P’rea Press is releasing a collection of Kyla’s poetry later this year!

    In my absence, the last short story I had roaming in the wild found a home — very happy about that! — and Devil Dolls and Duplicates in Australian Horror received a fetching review. Add in a splendid night last night with friends from up north and the good time vibe has definitely lingered…

    We’ve already bought our memberships for next year’s Continuum, which is the natcon and boasts the awesome paring of Kelly Link and Alison Goodman as guests of honour. And then there’s the bid from Canberra for the 2013 natcon (at Anzac weekend) and London’s push for the 2014 Worldcon … Let the good times roll!

    Chronos winners

    (the awards are for Victorian residents)
    Best Long Fiction: Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott (Pan MacMillan Australia)
    Best Short Fiction: ‘Her Gallant Needs’, Paul Haines (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press)
    Best Artwork: Australis Imaginarium cover, Shaun Tan (FableCroft Publishing)
    Best Fan Writer: Alexandra Pierce
    Best Fan Written Work: Review: The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick, Alexandra Pierce
    Best Fan Artwork: Continuum 6 props, Rachel Holkner
    Best Fan Publication: Live Boxcutters Doctor Who at AussieCon IV, Josh Kinal and John Richards
    Best Achievement: Programming at AussieCon IV, Sue Ann Barber and Grant Watson (lovely to hear these guys pay tribute to the non-Victorians who also contributed to the programming, an awesome effort all-round)

    Note: the amazing Conquilt of signatures is up for grabs on eBay till 20 June.